How is donated skin used?
Donated skin is used to help people with damaged or lost tissue due to cancers, injury, burns, birth defects, or disease. Examples include:
Skin grafts for burn victims
Cleft palate repair
Treatment of traumatic wounds
Head and neck reconstruction surgery
Commonly asked questions about skin donation for your loved one
Would skin donation impact or delay funeral plans?
Rest assured that traditional funeral arrangements can be made following donation, and open casket viewing is still an option.
Are there additional funeral costs associated with someone donating skin?
There are no additional costs to the donor's family or estate to donate skin or any other tissue.
What happens to the skin after it is donated?
After skin is recovered from a donor, it is sent to an accredited processing organization where it is carefully prepared in a way that makes it suitable for medical purposes. From there, it is utilized in hospitals and other medical facilities to help people with severely damaged or lost tissue due to cancers, injury, burns, birth defects, or disease.
How many people can be helped by one donor?
Donated organs and tissues such as skin from just one donor could improve the quality of life of up to 75 people whose lives have been dramatically changed by illness or trauma.
Imagine going into the hospital for a one-day procedure and waking up from a 4-month coma to find your life forever changed.
It was supposed to be a routine hysterectomy. This common procedure is done nearly half a million times a year in the U.S. alone, and Annette Ramirez—a young, healthy mother of 2 who loved to exercise, cook, and play the piano—was told she'd be home as early as the next day. But every surgery carries risk, as Annette and her family soon found out.
During Annette's operation, there was a small cut to the colon that went unnoticed at the time. Soon, however, bacteria released from the colon invaded other parts of her body, sending Annette into sepsis—a life-threatening medical emergency that rapidly damages tissue and organs. It wasn't long before 50% of the skin on Annette's body had been destroyed from the inside out.
It wasn't long before 50% of the skin on Annette's body had been destroyed from the inside out.
As a result, doctors had to amputate her limbs, and then began to perform skin grafts using Annette's remaining healthy skin to save her life. But there was simply not enough to repair all the damage. Thankfully, the doctors were able to supplement Annette's own skin with skin from generous tissue donors who had passed away. After countless procedures and nearly 2 years in hospitals, Annette finally returned home.
Today, Annette has dedicated her life to 2 causes close to her heart. She is a passionate advocate for other families facing medical tragedies. And she is a tireless fundraiser for Canine Companions, which provides assistance dogs free of charge to those in need. (That's Annette's Canine Companion, Patch, in the picture at the top of the page.)
Annette lost quite a bit as a result of her ordeal. But this amazing woman would have lost a lot more if not for the generosity of those who donated their skin to help others.